Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees

Take a peek into our latest featured title: Storey’s Guide To Keeping Honey Bees. This informative little book was written by Malcom T. Sanford and Richard E. Bonney, and imparts a great deal of information on honey production, pollination, and bee health. Below are some excerpts and photos from the book. Enjoy!

Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees

On Pollination:
It is well known that the value of pollination and its resultant seed set and fruit formation outweigh any provided by honey bee products like honey and beeswax. The pollination part of plant production, however, has taken a back seat to other considerations by farmers such as soil condition, moisture availability, diseases, and pest pressures.

Many people currently keeping bees have entered the craft with the intention of providing true economic value in terms of pollination. For most, this will be invisible as they focus on the harvest of various products the honey bee offers. Some, however, will inevitably be interested in providing pollination services, whether to increase production in a home garden or to develop commercial opportunities in the larger grower community.

Marking a Queen

On Marking The Queen:
Pick her up by the wings and thorax, never the abdomen. Use one hand to pluck her off the comb and then transfer her to the other hand, being careful not to grab her legs in the process. Apply the paint to the top of the thorax. Do not get any on the abdomen or head! Let the paint dry for a minute or two before returning the queen to the nest. Lacquer sold in hobby shops for painting models, typing correction fluid, and fingernail polish are all acceptable. Make sure it dries quickly, an essential attribute of any marking solution.

There is an international color-marking protocol that has been published, although not everyone follows this convention. The last digit or the year determines the color:

  • The year ends in 0 or 5 : The color is Blue
  • The year ends in 1 or 6 : The color is White
  • The year ends in 2 or 7 : The color is Yellow
  • The year ends in 3 or 8 : The color is Red
  • The year ends in 4 or 9 : The color is Green

Clipping the Queen Bee

On Clipping The Queen:
Another possibility is to clip the queen’s wing. It doesn’t make her as noticeable a marking, but does keep her from flying off with a swarm. Once the bees notice the queen is not with them, they will usually return to the hive. The queen can easily become lost in the process, however. Clipping is usually done with a pain of sharp scissors. Again, she must be immobilized. Be sure not to clip more than one-third of the wing as there are tiny veins that run through it.

Top Bar Hive

On The New Top Bar Hive:
TBH (Top Bar Hive) beekeeping is easier on both bees and beekeeper, according to Dr. Mangum. Here are some reasons:

  • The brood is generally placed toward the front-entrance end of the hive and the honey is located in the rear. Examining the brood or taking off honey is, therefore, less stressful on the insects because one doesn’t have to dismantle the whole colony.
  • The top bars butt against each other. Because of this they double as a cover, reducing material requirements and conserving weight. An outer cover of tin or cardboard is necessary, however, to protect the colony from moisture.
  • Only the part of the hive being worked is exposed during manipulation, which reduces overall defensiveness.
  • Finally, all Dr. Mangum’s hived are mounted on stands at waist level, keeping him from having to bend over.

Top bar beekeeping isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth a try for anyone considering a kinder, gentler way to keep bees.